We just figured out how to work the Internet here in the cabin, so here are a few day’s worth of posts.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:1-3 (NIV)
The only bad thing about a trip to the mountains is the amount of time it takes to get there! Although we hurried and rushed, leaving work early on Friday, our attempt to get halfway to Blue Ridge before the end of the day was thwarted by terrible traffic and rain. The skies were clear when we left home, but we didn’t get far before husband’s stomach got the best of him and we had to stop for supper. There’s a steak place he loves about an hour and a half from our house on the Interstate and even though he wasn’t driving, he telepathically commanded the car to get off at that exit. Just kidding, our friend, R. and P. are with us and they were hungry, too. I was all for drinking a soda and eating some crackers and sticking to the road, but was overruled. Our dinner was excellent, but because it was a sit down place as opposed to a fast food drive through when I also advocated, we were there about an hour and a half and by the time we got back on the road it was raining. About two miles passed the interstate on ramp, the road turned into a parking lot. For over an hour we crawled along at one mile an hour as traffic crept behind an accident scene. When it was our turn to pass, we saw several wrecked cars and a crane reaching over the broken guard rail trying to life another car back onto the road. From there, we cruised on into south Georgia with little problems, but by midnight, were too tired to go any farther. We spent the night in Valdosta with the words of an old Ray Stevens song running through my head, “How much does it cost to Valdosta, how much for just a part of the way, I’m tired and I’m hungry and I ain’t got no money, what would my momma say?” Our friends didn’t appreciate my singing. On Saturday, we headed north again. This time, we experienced two more delays resulting in a total of about an hour and a half sitting in traffic. We managed to avoid a third by watching the Atlanta warning signs and R.’s nimble escape via an exit ramp and some map skills. Finally, about 4:00, we arrived at our destination. Our cabin is lovely, tucked down a wooded hill and right on the Toccoa River. It was a welcome sight after our long journey. With a porch wrapping all the way around two bedrooms, two baths, and a large open room with space for living, dining and kitchen areas, it is all that we need. We immediately made ourselves comfortable in the porch rocking chairs and sighed in contentment. It made me think about Jesus’ words to us about the home He is preparing for us in Heaven. While the journey there might be rough and full of road blocks, the end will be beautiful.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91: 1-3, 14-16 (NIV)
When we woke up on Sunday morning, it was raining. We came to ride motorcycles, but decided that wasn’t likely to happen soon. We went back to the drawing board. My friends know how much I like to plan trips, and I had a manila envelope full of places to go and things to do so after reviewing our options, we decided to go to an art show and then, take a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The art show was a washout. The intrepid artists were poking the roofs of their tents to knock the pooled water off, but inside of the tents were ankle deep in mud and the paths between them difficult to navigate. I felt so sorry for them. As a craftsman, I know how much the entry fee can be in a show like that and to be out there in the humidity with their beautiful creations and no customers must have been discouraging. I bought a few small things that I admired not because I needed them, but because I wanted to encourage them. We left the show, ate lunch at Serenity Gardens Café and then, took our seats on the train. Not wanting to gamble on the weather, we purchased inside seating, but it was not long before we moved to the open air car for a better view. I love the sleepy sound of a train engine and the sway of the cars. I also enjoy the jolting alarm of the whistle even though it disturbed my peace! The train tracks led us along the Toccoa River through woods and past farms. We saw a “weir” or fish trap that was built by the Cherokee Indians. It is one of six v shaped rock formations on the river. The men would make noises up stream to scare the fish down into the trap where the women and children waited to pluck them out of the river. We traveled from Blue Ridge to McCaysville. The Georgia/Tennessee border brings about two name changes. The state lines go right through a town that is called McCaysville, Georgia to the south and Copperhill, Tennessee to the north. A painted blue line across a parking lot and street bisects the community. We got our pictures made with one foot in Georgia and the other in Tennessee. The river also changes its name being the Ocoee in Tennessee and the Toccoa in Georgia. We did a little shopping in McCaysville/Copperhill, but all the while listened for the train whistle to announce time to board. We did not want to be stranded far from home. As we headed home. I thought about the train’s call and how no matter what our location in the dual named town, we were sure it was meant for us. God knows us by name and calls us His as well. No matter how this world or its people might try to trap us, we are safe and secure in His Hands.
Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! Psalm 32:6-8, 10-11 (NIV)
It’s still raining in Blue Ridge. Not a light gentle shower but a downpour equivalent to what Noah must have witnessed. That means a lot of sitting on the porch watching it rain and wishing we were on the motorcycles. There’s been no riding since a short trip our first day here. The streets are too slick and flooded. The back porch of our cabin looks out over the Toccoa River. In fact, an extension of it protrudes above the river with the water underneath. The first day here, it was a nice quiet stream trickling over the rocks. I dipped my hand into it and found it not as cold as I had imagined. We talked about going swimming. That was before the deluge. We traveled to town in the truck and overheard a conversation about flooding. A dam upstream from our cabin creates Lake Blue Ridge. Because of the heavy rains, the dam would be opened late in the afternoon. If they waited until then, hopefully all the kayakers would be off the river. I heard what was said, but didn’t think anymore of it. I didn’t connect that it might impact me, but when we arrived back to the cabin, the river’s schizophrenic personality showed. Instead of the clear calm stream, we faced a rushing muddy torrent of water almost up and over the first level of the porch. It fascinated me, and I pulled a chair down as close as I could get to the river. I watched as it pushed logs, shoes, cans, and coolers along. When I realized that the twelve mile an hour current lapped at my feet, I anxiously retreated back to the screen porch. While there, I remembered that the river’s flow is controlled by the dam operators with many years of experience. There is no need to be afraid. I watch it rain, and I noticed cardinals diving at a feeder empty of seed. Disappointed, they flew away in search of dinner somewhere else. I recalled a container of feed in the cabin so refilled the bin. I wondered how they would know to come back and check again. I waited for a long time. Would they give up after one try? Later, they did come back. The delay did not dash hope. For many years, now, I have lived my life under two basic premises. One, God is in control, and two, God loves me and wants the best for me. I saw both those illustrated that evening as I sat on the porch. When storms come into my life, like the dam operators, God is in control. Even when the flood waters surround me, I can trust Him. God also knows what is best for me. Even when His timing is not my timing, while I wait, I continue to hope because like the cardinals, I know that He will provide for me. Even when the rains keep me off the motorcycle and on the porch.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
More rain so we drove in the truck to Brasstown, North Carolina and the John Campbell Folk School. Folk School is a place of inspiration and peace. I love the teachers, the camaraderie among strangers, the excellent food and walking the hills and valleys around the campus. Last year, for my birthday, I received one of the best gifts I have ever gotten, a one hundred dollar gift certificate to Folk School. It was made even more precious because of the dear one who gave it to me, my daughter of my heart, who sacrificed to buy it for me. I held the gift certificate hoping for another class and trip to Folk School, but with the economy’s impact on my income as well as that of my friends who like to go with me, I realized I would not be going back soon. I worried that the gift certificate might expire or even without an expiration, the school might change their policies making it unusable. So, I brought it with me this week to spend in the gift shop. John Campbell’s gift shop is out of this world, full of gorgeous handcrafted items from the school’s best teachers and students. I knew from experience that I would have a hard time choosing what to buy. Perhaps another wrought iron towel rack or a small hand carved wooden horse. Maybe I could buy some felting books or a leather purse. I envisioned hanging a water color of the mountains in my home. All thoughts of those items left my mind when I walked into the shop. The first thing to greet me was a large clay platter with a sketch of a horse on it. The horse looks as though someone casually drew on the clay with a blue pencil. It is striking and so different from anything I imaged. Still, I wandered around the shop looking at all the things that I could choose from trying to see if my first impression was correct. Maybe I was making a mistake to spend all the gift certificate on one thing. After all, when would I have $100 to spend at the Folk School gift shop again? Time after time, I circled the shop and always returned to stand in front of the horse. Finally, I decided. I had to have it. I went to the cash register and asked the clerk if it was okay to take it down. “Do you have more in the back,” I asked. “No,” she replied. “It is one of a kind. The only one we have.” She gingerly wrapped it for me, and I carried it to the car. All the way back to the cabin, I kept peaking at it, stroking its textured surface and admiring the design. What a treasure I have! What a gift! One of a kind! God feels the same way about me. I am His treasure, His unique creation. So are you. You’re one of a kind, too.